This simulation shows a cylinder of radius R that accelerates to the right because of a constant horizontal applied force (shown in purple). If the applied force was the only horizontal force acting, the cylinder would accelerate at 1.00 m/s/s. Static friction, however, also acts on the cylinder, ensuring that the cylinder rols without slipping to the right.

The cylinder's acceleration depends on where the applied force is applied, because the position of the applied force affects both the magnitude and direction of the force of static friction. You may find it couner-intuitive, but in some cases the cylinder can actually accelerate faster than 1.00 m/s/s. Explore the simulation to determine under what circumstances this is true.

On the full free-body diagram, the applied force is purple, the static friction force is red, the normal force is blue, and the force of gravity is green.

Simulation written by Andrew Duffy, and first posted on 7-23-2018.

Creative Commons License
This work by Andrew Duffy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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